The Business of Learning - Mid-Pacific Institute

Elementary School Principal's Blog

The Business of Learning

Posted on August 29, 2008

by Dr. Edna Hussey on August 29, 2008

In the tradition of most schools nationwide, we held an Open House for Kindergarten and Multiage 1st- 2nd grades this past Wednesday evening, while parents of preschoolers met for a session on the documentation process.  The Open House for Multiage 3rd-4th grades and 5th grade will be next Wednesday, September 3, 6:00-8:00pm.  The specialists (teachers of art, physical education, character education, and music) provided a brief overview of their content areas.  These teachers, experts in their fields, teach across several grade levels each day (think about their ability to shift instructional strategy from hour to hour) and are aware of the developmental needs at each grade level.  The specialists also have the privilege of teaching every child every year, so they have the advantage of observing the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development of each child across the span of possibly eight years!  These areas are critical to each child's growth and are as important as academic content. Throughout the school year, you'll be hearing more about the integration of content and skills as foundational to the program.

Classroom teachers will often paint broad strokes about the curriculum, instruction, and assessment during the limited time available at an Open House. However, if you are attentive to the teachers' weblogs and your child's work, as well as attend school events and parent meetings, you'll be able to deepen your understanding about the business of learning at Mid-Pacific.  

I encourage you to attend, as much as possible, the various parent sessions offered throughout the year.  The next parent session on math instruction is November 13, 6:00-7:30pm.  Gail Parrino will return to explain how the concepts for multiplication and division are taught.  If you learned a whole new way of doing addition and subtraction at the first math session, you'll walk away from the second session learning more about the ways in which traditional algorithms (procedures for problem solving) are limited compared to how your children are learning today. Although not scheduled at this time, we will also be offering a session on writing assessment in October or November.

Parents of preschoolers experienced first-hand the process the preschool faculty undergoes when analyzing video documentation about children's learning.  By demystifying "documentation," parents gained a clearer understanding about how the teachers look at video or photographs, speculate about what's going on in the mind of the child, and discuss at length the extraordinary learning in what appear to be ordinary moments.  Block-building and sand play are not mere "play" but opportunities for rather sophisticated learning and problem solving for our youngest students.

Important reminder: If your child is enrolled in an afterschool class that begins AFTER 3:00pm (e.g., Japanese, ballet, tennis, etc.), you must enroll your child in the afterschool program. Children cannot be waiting for an afterschool class unsupervised, regardless of the grade level. Please check the schedule for your child's afterschool class(es) and call the office if you need to enroll your child in the afterschool program. You may also pick up your child then return later for the class or wait with your child to avoid afterschool program costs.
This policy is to ensure the safety of your children.

I hope you make it a point to check the teacher weblogs before or after reading the Principal's weekly letter.  Set aside some weekend time to deepen your understanding about your child's learning experiences.

Here's to all of us who work to keep the home fires burning -- celebrate Labor Day by carving out some rest and recreation time with your family.  They're only children for such a short time!

For our children,

Edna L. Hussey